Superman #28 serves as a finale for Brian Bendis' multi-year run on the Man of Steel's core series, bringing home his, Ivan Reis, and others' additions to the Superman mythos while reminding readers of the character's many timeless qualities. Brian Bendis has led a revitalization of the Superman line for several years now, bringing changes big and small to the character and his supporting cast. During the writer's run on both Action Comics and Superman, readers have seen Jonathan Kent aged from a young boy to a teenager, Conner Kent return as Superboy, and perhaps most importantly Superman announce his identity as Clark Kent to the world. Simultaneously, Bendis re-established Superman as a "cosmic" hero in Superman, placing him in a leadership role with the fledgling United Planets organization and adding several new cosmic threats—each one brilliantly designed and brought to life by Ivan Reis. Superman served to broaden Clark Kent's role in the universe, turning him from a symbol of peace for humanity to a symbol of peace for the universe.
The finale of the Bendis/Reis run captures that change in its own way. Superman is grappling with Utopica, a creature created by the Synmar to counter Superman. Clark has done nothing to antagonize the Synmar besides exist, and so he attempts to balance beating back this new foe and trying to reason with him to find a solution. In the finale, Superman actually convinces the Synmar to side with him over the very Superman-esque figure they created, while Superman's expansive allies eventually come to his aid. It's a rushed and uneven issue (partially due to the deliberate communication barrier Bendis built into the Synmar) but it also illustrates how Superman has changed over the course of these 28 issues.
Although the recent Superman run as a whole had its share of pacing issues, I really enjoyed how it significantly changed Superman's status quo in an organic and additive fashion. The world knows that Superman is Clark Kent and those changes come with a whole new set of issues, but I feel like Bendis and Reis maintained a focus on Superman's core personality. Over the series, readers saw Superman fight supervillains while his inner monologue focused on how to keep Metropolis or loved ones safe. Readers saw Superman take time to work through his inner turmoil with Dr. Fate, and watched him struggle to bring an entire universe together. As the narration in Superman #28 reminds us, readers see Superman at his most human—still needing to be loved as much as any of us.
While not as bombastic or headline-grabbing as other runs, I feel like Bendis and Reis' Superman fundamentally strengthened the character's foundation so that other creators can tell even more stories using this same status quo. This will be a fondly remembered Superman run, and I hope that it isn't immediately erased like so many other superhero status quo alterations from recent years.
Published by DC Comics
On December 15, 2020
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Ivan Reis and Danny Miki
Colors by Alex Sinclair0comments
Letters by Dave Sharpe
Cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Alex Sinclair